How Likely Am I to Be Laid Off as a New Junior Associate in a Law Firm? |

How Likely Am I to Be Laid Off as a New Junior Associate in a Law Firm?


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Question: I have just accepted an offer to work as an associate next fall for a major New York law firm. In the wake of the associate layoffs at other firms, I was wondering how safe my position would be if my firm decided to clean house.
Answer: You and other third-year law students face an uncertain economic future. A firm that has a tremendous amount of work for you at this time may, depending on what happens during the next year, not have any work at all for first-year associates by the time you graduate.

Whether economic times are good or bad, once a firm does decide to "clean house" your position is only as secure as your last review. If your review has not been particularly favorable, the chances of you staying with the firm are not too promising. Throw in an unstable economy, and my guess is that you will soon be dusting off your resume.

On the other hand, if you are receiving stellar reviews and the partners and/or senior associates are asking for you to work with them on their client matters, I would guess that even with a house cleaning, you are still going to be part of the firm.

The chances of this kind of house cleaning affecting first-year associates is less at the kind of firm you're joining. Major New York firms generally have a fairly accurate estimate of the work they will have for the next few years and know how many first year attorneys they need to have on board.

Even if they have misjudged their need for new attorneys, major law firms generally try to avoid laying off first-year associates for two reasons. First of all, these new attorneys haven't been around long enough for partners and senior associates to judge the quality of their work. Unless the firm is in dire economic straits, or you are absolutely, positively not able to grasp what you are supposed to be doing, it is rare to see such a junior associate being let go. Secondly, letting go of a first-year associate also harms the firm's on-campus recruiting program much more than when it lays off mid-level and senior associates. For those reasons, first-years tend to be exempted from layoffs.

Although one can never be truly 100 percent safe, my guess is that you do have a modicum of job security simply because of the kind of firm you are joining.

The important thing to remember is that as long as you are doing a good job, you probably do not have to worry at this time. However, if you do find that you are having problems with your assignments, or that the assignments are slow to come your way, you need to take some immediate action. First, speak with the partner you report to and try to work out the problems you are having. If it does not seem that things are going to get better, get yourself out on the job market before you become a layoff statistic. Best wishes to you.

See the Top 32 Reasons Attorneys Lose Their Jobs Inside of Law Firms to learn some of the most common reasons attorneys are fired or let go from law firms.

Summary: In the wake of the associate layoffs at other firms, I was wondering how safe my position would be if my firm decided to clean house

See the following articles for more information:

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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